COACH'S CORNER: What’s right with the NFL
by Mike Wright, Cadiz Record Columnist
Jan 22, 2014 | 160 160 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Way back in the 1970s after graduating from Trigg County High School, I enrolled at Western Kentucky University. When I finally realized I wasn’t going to be an NBA basketball player and exhausted my opportunities of playing college basketball, I settled into playing church league ball in Bowling Green. Now, let me tell you something about church league basketball in the city of Bowling Green back in the 1970s and ‘80s. Basically, it was one heck of a basketball league. You see, there were some ex-Western athletes, ex-Austin Peay players such as Charley Fishback (who had migrated north to Bowling Green) and college students from all corners of the globe. In other words, it was a pretty good brand of basketball. By the way, one of the teams, Grace Nazarene, had a player by the name of Jim Morrison. He was around 6-foot-7 and 290 pounds. A few years later, he became a professional wrestler who went by the name of Hillbilly Jim. He was an absolute monster on the basketball court, and he had a brother of nearly the same size.

There were several Trigg graduates at Western back then, and we all attended First Baptist Church in Bowling Green. Therefore, we got together with some others and formed our own church league team. Our team included Trigg alumni Steve Guess, Bill Fort, Lenny Raley and myself. Adding greatly to our team was 6-foot-7 Kelly Young, who had played at Christian County, and 6-foot-1 Theo Tamme, who had been a good athlete at Boyle County High School. With the addition of those two guys, we actually won the prestigious league title one year.

Now, back to Theo, because that is where this story really begins. Theo was a good baseball and basketball player at Boyle County High School. More importantly, though, Theo was one of the nicest people that I had ever met in my life. He was even-tempered, easy going and extremely modest. Fortunately, I was able to somewhat keep up with Theo over the decades since we left college. A few years ago, my basketball team was at summer camp in his hometown of Danville, and he offered to take our team out for ice cream one night. You see, Theo had married his college sweetheart Pam Stegall and then settled back in his hometown. Theo and Pam had three children. Sons Jacob and Seth and daughter Sarah Jane. Both sons were standout athletes at Boyle County and went on to college careers, Jacob starring at tight end for Kentucky and Seth playing football for Western. It is Jacob that I am focusing on today.

Theo and Pam’s son Jacob played on four consecutive state championship teams at Boyle County High. That is amazing. Think about it – four state titles in a row. After a great career at UK, Jacob was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. He played in one Super Bowl, coming out on the short end versus the New Orleans Saints. As fate would have it, however, Jacob went to the Denver Broncos two years ago at the same time as you know who – yeah, that’s right, Peyton Manning. As a matter of fact, Jacob – No. 84 for Denver – caught the first touchdown pass of the AFC Championship Game this past Sunday. I quickly texted Theo my congratulations, as I sometimes do when watching one of Jacob’s games. He quickly texted back. I even asked him to have Jacob send me a text so I could show the students at school my Super Bowl connection. Jacob Tamme texted me after the game and asked me to tell the Trigg County students to listen, be respectful and turn in all their homework on time. He did say it would be nice if we could give them a break on Super Bowl weekend.

My point is this. For all the negative you hear about professional athletes, there is a lot of positive that you don’t. Jacob Tamme is a perfect example of this. Theo, his dad, said it best. “Being a professional athlete has not changed Jacob much at all. He has a wife and son, and they drive a car and pickup truck. He has not gone out and spent money lavishly. Jacob took his small town values and principles straight form Danville, Ky. to the NFL. His Christian values have been a big part of that, in my opinion. Jacob is very grounded. I am as proud of him for the way he is off the field as his accomplishments on the field.”

So, when you watch your next NFL game or watch the highlights on SportsCenter, remember this. Not all athletes end up on the police blotter or shout in the camera after the game. There all also those like Jacob Tamme, working hard, earning a paycheck and quietly going about their own business.

Jacob Tamme is the perfect example of what is right about the NFL and professional sports. Jacob Tamme is also the reason I am pulling for the Broncos to win the Super Bowl.

I am just hoping to have the opportunity to send my old buddy Theo a text message saying “Congratulations on your son being a Super Bowl champion.” The great thing, however, is that Theo knows his son is a winner no matter the final score of the ballgame.

Enthusiasm Makes the Difference

Mike Wright is the former head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to trophyland@outlook.com.

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